TV Food Network star Sandra Lee has been diagnosed with breast cancer and is set to undergo a double mastectomy later this week.
The 48-year-old celebrity chef, also the longtime partner to New York governor Andrew Cuomo, shared the news on Twitter Tuesday after she appeared on Good Morning America alongside cancer survivor Robin Roberts.
“I wanted you to know about the difficult news I recently received — I was diagnosed with breast cancer,” she wrote. “I first shared this news publicly with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America today — because her own journey through this tough diagnosis was something that inspired me enormously.”
Lee said she was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS, which is a common cancer found in the milk ducts that can spread into the breast tissue if left untreated.
Women diagnosed with the type of cancer typically choose to receive normal treatment, a lumpectomy and radiation, but Lee has opted for a double mastectomy.
Lee, who says she is in good health and has no family history of the illness, credited a routine mammogram with saving her life.
“I am undergoing a bilateral mastectomy this week. This is not a decision I made lightly, and I’m not advocating for anyone else to make the choice that I made – but I am saying that without early detection on my side, I could be telling a very different story – or not be here to tell it at all,” she said.
“Don’t think you’re safe even if you are in perfect health with no family history or warning signs,” Lee continued. “Because believe me if you do that, you are risking your life. Take care — please be well, and PLEASE go get your mammograms.”
Gov. Cuomo praised Lee for her strength and transparency in sharing the unfortunate news at a press conference in Hempstead, Louisiana.
He said, via The New York Post:
If she hadn’t gone, and if she had waited until she was 50, this would be a different situation then what we’re dealing with.
We’re hopeful that she’s going to have surgery at the end of this week and that everything turns out well.
To me, it’s just another reminder…One phone call could change your life, and sometimes you get caught up in the day to day and all these little nuances that we think are so important at the time, and then you get a phone call that actually reminds you of what’s really important.
I lost my father in January, this situation with Sandy, it just reframes everything for you.
We talked about coming forward, not coming forward and doing it as a private matter, and she said, ‘If one person gets the point of early detection, if one person goes to the digit and save themselves, it would have been worth it.’
She feels very strongly about it, so God bless her. She was willing to share her story so that maybe so she could help someone, and I said, ‘However you want to do it, I’m there.’
I’m proud of her for it. It’s not easy.
Lee said she had just wrapped a photo shoot with People magazine when she received the news from her doctor.
“And I walked off the set, and 20 minutes later my doctor called and told me I had breast cancer,” she told Roberts on GMA. “I didn’t even cry, I was stunned…You know, and that’s just how fast life turns. It turns on a dime.”
She also said her doctors call her a “poster girl for mammography.”
“I’m 48 years old. I’ve got a couple years till 50,” she continued. “If I would have waited, I probably wouldn’t even be sitting here.”
“You hear about it and it is always someone else. It’s a friend that you sent flowers to and you wish well and that you watch every single day…But I never thought I would be dealing with this,” she concluded.
— Sandra Lee (@SandraLee) May 12, 2015